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Tesla Planning To Make SUVs At Reno's Gigafactory, Report Says

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(AP Photo/John Locher)

A sign marks the entrance to Tesla's Gigafactory outside Reno.

Tesla might add a vehicle production line to its sprawling Gigafactory near Reno, according to a published report.

The website Business Insider posted a story last week saying Tesla expects to manufacture its new Model Y electric SUV at the Gigafactory. It quoted internal documents that said production could reach 7,000 vehicles a week by the end of 2020.

A company spokesperson said the documents cited in the report were outdated but did not deny plans to manufacture vehicles in Nevada.

More than 3,000 people already work at the Gigafactory, just east of Reno in Storey County. It is seen as contributing to crowded schools and streets as well as the area's tight housing and job markets.

However, Tom Harris, a professor and director of the Center for Economic Development at the University of Nevada, Reno, told KNPR's State of Nevada that there is a lag because everything happened so quickly.

"Yes, we're going to have expansions in community services because of problems with capacity but that will work itself out. It takes a little time," he said. 

The factory, which is 5 million square feet and continues to expand, currently makes batteries and electric motors for Tesla vehicles and electricity storage components for the company’s SolarCity subsidiary.

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Harris brushed off concerns about the financial stability of Tesla, which some have questioned after delays in the release of its latest model.

Harris believes the type of technology being developed and manufactured at the Sparks facility will be needed as solar power use expands and more storage of that energy will be needed.

The Gigafactory opened in 2016 after Tesla received tax breaks from the state of Nevada that could be worth more than $1 billion over 20 years.

Some people have criticized those tax breaks, but Harris pointed out that besides the gigafactory the Tesla deal has brought in more high tech industries, including a lithium mine in Humboldt County that is looking at processing the mineral here in Nevada instead of sending it to China for processing.

Harris said those new employees will have an impact on a lot of aspects of life in Nevada.

“We’re getting these other industries that are having a different type of employee, which is going to have some impacts on income and how they join into the economy here as well as social fabric of Reno and Las Vegas,” he said.

 

 

Guests

Tom Harris, professor and director of Center for Economic Development, University of Nevada, Reno

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